Czech news in brief for April 17: Wednesday's top headlines

Senate to vote on new rules for same-sex couples, Czech PM honors Václav Havel in U.S. Congress, and Czech Labour Code change would allow pay in euros.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 17.04.2024 08:08:00 (updated on 17.04.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

education AI will help assess high school students' exams

Miroslav Krejčí, director of the state education organization Cermat, revealed that this year, artificial intelligence (AI) will assist in evaluating applicants' answers alongside human assessors. Two teachers independently review each answer during the entrance exams for matriculation courses.

In cases of divergent scores, Cermat employees arbitrate. AI functions as an additional evaluator in this process. According to Krejčí, AI will evaluate 650,000 students' answers in mathematics and 480,000 in Czech from tests.

MILITARY Czech PM: Ukraine will get new ammo in June

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced plans this afternoon to secure Ukraine's first pieces of newly bought ammunition from outside the EU by June, following talks at NATO headquarters. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized the need for stronger Ukrainian air defenses.

Fiala highlighted cooperation with the Netherlands and Denmark in procuring ammunition. The Netherlands pledged EUR 250 million (CZK 6.3 billion), while Denmark promised EUR 100 million (CZK 2.5 billion). Around 20 EU and NATO countries are involved in the ammunition-collection project for Ukraine. 

LGBTQ+ news Senate passes same-sex adoption bill

The Senate has approved an amendment allowing same-sex couples to enter into registered partnerships without debate, which will come into effect next year. The amendment also grants same-sex partners equal rights to joint property and widow/widower pensions.

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However, child adoption is restricted and can only occur if one partner is the biological parent or through a court decision. A draft that aimed to legalize same-sex marriage was defeated in the Czech Chamber of Deputies earlier this year.

HISTORY Govt to vote on May 1 becoming 'significant day'

The Chamber of Deputies voted for a draft amendment to the law on public holidays, designating May 1 as a significant day for the Czech Republic's accession to the EU in 2004. The amendment highlights the country's pro-Western orientation after the Cold War, the government says.

Politicians in the Senate will now debate the bill. The government notes that March 12 is also a significant date for the country's entry into NATO. In Czechia, significant days do not constitute public holidays. However, May 1 (Labor Day) is a holiday regardless.

Legislation Senate to vote on new rules for same-sex couples

Today's Senate session is poised to scrutinize new rules for same-sex unions, gaining support from social and human rights committees. The Constitutional-Legal Committee refrains from a stance, neither advocating nor rejecting the measure.

The amendment, if passed, will grant similar rights as marriage to same-sex partners, effective next year. Additionally, the Senate will likely greenlight a legal definition for affordable rental housing, aiming to streamline state support and offer longer lease terms.

Diplomacy Czech PM honors Václav Havel in US Congress

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala honored Václav Havel in the U.S. Congress Tuesday, presenting silver coins to congressmen Lloyd Doggett and Mario Diaz-Balart. Havel's bust, a symbol of Czech-U.S. friendship, has resided in Congress since 2014.

Fiala concluded his two-day visit by honoring Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia's first president, in Washington, D.C.'s diplomatic quarter. Earlier in the day, the Czech PM visited the U.S. Capitol to discuss Czech-U.S. relations and aid for Ukraine with House Speaker Mike Johnson and other representatives.

Economy Czech Labor Code change would allow EUR pay

Labour Minister Marian Jurečka unveiled proposed changes to Czech Labor Code, that would allow some employees to receive salaries in euros starting next year. Currently, only Czechs working abroad can do so. In its policy statement, that government said it aims for flexibility while safeguarding workers' rights.

Additional proposed changes include job reservation for parents on parental leave, altering notice periods, and extending probationary periods. Fourteen-year-olds could also start working during the summer holidays. The government will review draft in May.

Transport Prague bus stops could be signposted by summer

Prague's public transport system is gearing up for a potential overhaul, eyeing comprehensive signage for all bus stops to optimize service starting this summer. The proposed move aims to trim wait times, boost operational efficiency, and cut down on noise and emissions.

While touted for its potential fuel and cost savings, concerns linger over accessibility, particularly for individuals with reduced mobility. Pending approval from Prague councilors, trial runs could commence alongside nationwide timetable changes on June 29.

Politics Former president attends launch of conspiracy book

Former Czech President Miloš Zeman attended the unveiling ceremony of a book detailing an alleged attempt to oust him from office during his hospitalization in 2021. Conspiracy or Truth about the Attempt to Remove the Czech President by Luboš Procházka and Radim Panenka, describe the circumstances surrounding the president's stay in Prague's Central Military Hospital after the general election in 2021.

The book received blessings from Cardinal Dominik Duka and garnered attendance from former officials, politicians, and public figures. Zeman, 79, who left office in 2023, recently underwent hospitalization for a blood clot removal. The hospital and the counter-intelligence chief Michal Koudelka declined to comment on the book.

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